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Baritone vs. Bass

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Negoba
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I'm still trying to figure out whether I'm a bass or a baritone.

My untrained voice has been able to do G2-C4 since puberty. I remember songs with C#4 and D4 being a stretch even 20 years ago but being able to stretch down to D2.

I still break somewhere around C#4 but with only a little twang can get to F4 pretty consistently. I can hit C5 in a kind of reinforced Falsetto that's usable but more pretty than rock. Higher than that is just squeaky or airy noise at this point.

G4 is now where things get wierd for me now. If a song calls for a G4 I can make it happen well enough to do it live, but I wouldn't go higher than that. But I still have to think and use technique to get above D4.

So someone help me out. Someone here said Axl was a bass. Well I'm that low, but not as low as some of the basses in the Country vocal groups like Statlers and Oak Ridge Boys.

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Right now I play in a duo so the only other wrinkle is how to harmonize with the other guy. He's definitely a tenor with a very good upper range. Harmonies sound better closer, so my range has been pulled up substantially to accommodate this.

I guess one of the things I think about is where I should expect certain things to happen. I know where my breaks are right now, and I'm working to figure out how to bridge. Despite what Rob says, mix voice has been a very useful way of thinking (it's all one voice, right) and I can bridge to that fine. (so my C#4 break is a thing of the past). But now around G4 where I truly have to go into full head voice, that's still a problem.

I'm probably getting Pillars for X-mas. It's awhile to wait but I do have a day job...

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I guess one of the things I think about is where I should expect certain things to happen. I know where my breaks are right now, and I'm working to figure out how to bridge. Despite what Rob says, mix voice has been a very useful way of thinking (it's all one voice, right) and I can bridge to that fine. (so my C#4 break is a thing of the past). But now around G4 where I truly have to go into full head voice, that's still a problem.

Negoba: Full head voice feels like mix in the throat, but has a different resonance sensation.

To help you get toward it, try using a very closed (in front) Oh, but with a wide-open throat. Closing the Oh will lower the passaggio, and allow the vowel to roll up into head voice at a lower note than the G. I would not be surprised if it appears at F4, or even E4. At the laryngeal level, you do not need to do anything deliberately.

Give that a trial, and let us know how that works for you.

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Somebody who knows more about this can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that voice classification is a combination of both art and science.

Most people that I can say with some certainty are real true bass types are people that tend to have unusually booming voices as well as an unusually good command of the lower 2nd octave. Axl, IMO, doesn't demonstrate that criteria, although maybe he does and I've just never heard it because most of the time he's singing very high.

Keep in mind that operatic Bass singers are singing down to E2 or perhaps even lower without amplification. In acappella and/or quartet singing, they'll often go down to D2, C2, or even lower for effect, although they will be amplified. In the Oak Ridge Boys cover of Elvira, the bass Richard Sterban sings that notoriously low Bb1.

But I think it's not only about the lowest note you can "hit" but how well your voice does generally in that very low part. I often get mistaken for a bass because I have a lower than average speaking pitch and notes down to about E2-Eb2, which means I'm sure as hell not a tenor. But the notes in the second octave just don't have the resonance they would have if they were being sung by a true bass. They're good enough that I could sing the bass line in a choir or ensemble. And if a quartet couldn't find a real bass, I could probably manage that role to some degree, though I'd be far from ideal.

So if you think you're an exceptionally powerful singer in the second octave, you may indeed be a bass. Otherwise, odds are you're a bass-baritone or baritone. However, as Daniel points out, it doesn't matter in the least for many types of music.

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I recently read something that desribe Axl as basso-baritone. The lead vocal he sings in "Shackler's Revenge" sound very basso to me. When speaks, it is in low baritone, mostly, I think.

I, too, have read that in popular music, any sound you can make is valid, especially with amplification systems. As opposed to traditional opera, where one is often cast in one range, where you happen to be strongest and, for the role, if you have the right tessitura.

One role might require a heavier sound, another might be a lighter sound.

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Basso-baritone is probably where I'm at. My calm speaking voice is probably about A2 or so. I've written songs with E2s and they require some warmup to hit good tone, but it's comfortable enough that I'm counting on that note to always be there. C2 is the best it ever gets right now and that would require swallowing the mic for use.

Right now I'm working on tone and making C4 up usable. So thanks to Steven for some pointers. I'll be trying them this week and see how it goes. Played a little already, but it will take some time and experimentation. I've been singing for a long time but only very recently learning to do it right.

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C2? Goodness gracious, holy elephant song (yes, elephants sing, at extremely low pitch) ... that must sound like the bottom of a well. I'll bet you could do a decent Caiaphas in Jesus Christ, Superstar.

"Ah, gentlemen.

You know why we are here.

We've not much time.

And quite a problem here..."

Steven is the one to listen to. He has mentioned, in the past, that while he is a basso-baritone, he can also get a C6. Crazy huge range. Beats my paltry 3 octaves to smithereens.

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Baritones, especially baritones that can do some tenor range, can often get cast in the "hero" roles in theater. This I learned from someone who is in theater, constantly.

And many is the baritone that can sing stuff in the tenor range, giving them monstrous ranges, at least in popular music.

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I recently read something that desribe Axl as basso-baritone. The lead vocal he sings in "Shackler's Revenge" sound very basso to me. When speaks, it is in low baritone, mostly, I think.

I, too, have read that in popular music, any sound you can make is valid, especially with amplification systems. As opposed to traditional opera, where one is often cast in one range, where you happen to be strongest and, for the role, if you have the right tessitura.

One role might require a heavier sound, another might be a lighter sound.

The low vocal part on Shackler's Revenge sounds like that of a bass-baritone to me. Yeah it's down in the basement, and personally have to use fry to get some of those very low notes. But it doesn't have the "boom" of a bass. Axl's vocal folds might be long enough to be a bass, but I don't think they're thick enough.

I always find it odd (in a good way) that we discuss Axl's low range when he's famous for singing really high.

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When Axl first got together with Tracii Gunn and Rob Gardner to form Hollywood Rose, Axl was singing low end of baritone, quite a bit of the time. Anyway, so they had to quit using the name Hollywood Rose because another band was already using it first. So, they combined two of the last names, Gunn became Guns and added it to Axl's last name. Hence, Guns and Roses. Anyway, so one day, Axl was doing what Rob described as this funny, whiny "falsetto." But it sounded neat and Rob implored him to keep doing it.

In choir, Axl often sang bass parts and baritone parts. Once in a while, he would change up and sing some tenor, just mess with the choir director.

So, the singing high thing was kind of stunt that took hold and became "the sound."

One of the earliest times that Slash met Izzy Straddlin, Izzy had a cassette tape with him and a portable player and played a demo of a song. The recording quality was poor and he heard this whine, like a tape squealing just before it breaks. Then, he realized, this whine was in tune with the music. That was his first introduction to the sound of Axl.

My head is full of useless trivia. Sorry about the cranial hemorraging.

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When Axl first got together with Tracii Gunn and Rob Gardner to form Hollywood Rose, Axl was singing low end of baritone, quite a bit of the time. Anyway, so they had to quit using the name Hollywood Rose because another band was already using it first. So, they combined two of the last names, Gunn became Guns and added it to Axl's last name. Hence, Guns and Roses. Anyway, so one day, Axl was doing what Rob described as this funny, whiny "falsetto." But it sounded neat and Rob implored him to keep doing it.

In choir, Axl often sang bass parts and baritone parts. Once in a while, he would change up and sing some tenor, just mess with the choir director.

So, the singing high thing was kind of stunt that took hold and became "the sound."

One of the earliest times that Slash met Izzy Straddlin, Izzy had a cassette tape with him and a portable player and played a demo of a song. The recording quality was poor and he heard this whine, like a tape squealing just before it breaks. Then, he realized, this whine was in tune with the music. That was his first introduction to the sound of Axl.

My head is full of useless trivia. Sorry about the cranial hemorraging.

Hardly useless at all, I'd read most of it myself. One thing I've heard differently is that he'd sing the soprano line to mess with the choir director. And he's try to be just loud enough so that the director wouldn't be sure if he was singing that line or not.

Axl's always been a role model of mine as a guy who was probably told his entire life to stick to the low stuff and then sold multi-platinum albums singing high. As a human being, on the other hand, not somebody that I look up to exactly.

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then sold multi-platinum albums singing high. As a human being, on the other hand, not somebody that I look up to exactly.

I have to admit that I always took his his side, even after reading the bios of Slash, Duff, and Steven. But what really bugged me was refusing to accept RARHOF award. Granted, that is a political insitution who never will accept and induct KISS and I stand with Eddie Trunk on that problem. So, I can get not wanting an award from them because how much weight would that award carry? Well, it still carries a lot with the fans, regardless of the political stance against KISS.

And Axl was not going to relent for just one night. All ya gotta do is walk on the stage, say thank you, take the award and beat feet. Don't have to re-unite, don't have to hug anyone. But no, not going to happen, same tired tripe about machinations against him, etc. It's funny because there's been times where Duff came on and played with GnR, no problem. Other times, Izzy popped in. But decidedly never will there ever be an more peformances with Slash or Steven.

Things I read in his unofficial bio. Things like that, where advisers tell him this or that and he believes them. The times he just wouldn't go on. Maybe he really is just crazy. It does happen to people, regardless wealth and fame.

I think it took a lot of out of him to make his voice do that sound that high and there were days he simply could not do it because it was not healthy. Basso-baritone singing at the upper end of tenor almost all the time with that sound. And I know plenty are going to disagree with me and yes, with this or that yadda yadda you can yadda yadda. Yeah, call me in 25 years and tell me you're still doing it like you did for just one song in your kitchen on your laptop.

What was a silly sound one day became a career.

And now we got young'uns studying to get just that same sound if they can only find the right technique with the right percent of dumaflachie on this control and some gurgle on that mode of snoogums, etc.

The cycle of life continues, with or without Axl.

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I saw GnR on the Use Your Illusion tour in Alpine Valley outside Chicago. Axl made us wait an hour or more but once he was on, it was a great show. There are certainly great singers that have their crap together enough to come out on time and still nail it also. But it's rock n roll. I've seen sloppy pathetic performances too by other bands and singers. Bob Dylan is so unprofessional, it annoys the crap out of me that people will go and see him. (Though he still does write some good songs).

It's just like Bobby Fischer in chess. The guy was a racist nutjob, but that doesn't mean you can't learn from him.

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I have to admit that I always took his his side, even after reading the bios of Slash, Duff, and Steven. But what really bugged me was refusing to accept RARHOF award.

RARHOF can suck it until they get off their high horse and induct AT LEAST one of the big four in arena rock: Journey, Foreigner, Styx, Boston (big five if you want to count REO Speedwagon).

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Remylebeau,

I agree with you completely, but I just couldn't help leaving out Rush.... In fact, I've seen all the bands you mentioned several times over the years. I couldn't count how many bands I've seen or concerts I've been to beginning at age fourteen.

My nine year old grandson wanted to see Nugent, REO, and Styx this past summer, and the closest they played to where I live was Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Not wanting to break my promise to him, we went to the show, and I have to say, REO "stole" the venue !!! They were simply awesome !!! (Was a bit disappointed with Styx given the past times I seen them, BUT ???)

Oh, a note about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ---- We spent the night over after the concert, went to the RARHOF the following day, and I was really disappointed !!! And so was my grandson.... What a boring experience and a waste of $$$ !!!!! More to that whole experience, but it's way too much to type....

~A~

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I'm still trying to figure out whether.....

Baritone most likely, but it obviously doesn't help your voice in any way unless you are trying to find arias. Any time you run into a bridge/break, it means your phonation is too heavy/weighty, and voice is unbalanced. You could be any vocal class, and not get above your first octave because you never tried lightening your voice. This is true with any point in your voice.

Like it was stated, your vocal class only really matters to what roles you sing in classical music. Other than that, knowing your range just lets you know what your lowest note is so you don't sing a song that goes too low.

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How about the awards show that when it first introduced a "heavy metal" category, gave the award to Jethro Tull? Everyone was offended, including Ian Anderson. He would definitely tell you he is not heavy metal and does not wish to be described as such, though having nothing against the genre.

Sebastian Bach is one of the Axl's longest-running and truest friends and will readily testify that Axl spends a lot of time warming up to get "that sound." And like all of us, there are times when it's just not going to cooperate.

Even Tommy had a bout of it recently, doing songs that are right in his comfort zone and still going through a malady. Easy enough to deal with in our forum. But what about a 30 city tour, on average singing every other night, sometimes two nights in a row?

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